A recent poll of HR professionals by leading law firm Taylor Vinters shows that a staggering 80% did not restrict access to social media sites within the workplace, with 30% suffering a confidential information leak via social media.
Taylor Vinters undertook the survey to enlighten and guide organisations through the potential minefield of social media in the workplace. These figures emphasise that the risks are very real and potentially damaging to a company’s reputation.
Taylor Vinters believes that the social media phenomenon of today’s society means that one wrongly worded comment can cause untold damage, in seconds, making it increasingly difficult to monitor. We’ve all seen headlines of highly contentious cases appearing in the media and how reputations can be potentially destroyed in a 140-character tweet. The first case of its kind went to the High Court recently as Chris Cairns, former New Zealand Cricket Captain, was awarded £90,000 in damages following allegations on Twitter.
If organisations do not have bans on access to social media then as Anita Rai, Employment Law Partner at Taylor Vinters, suggests: “There should be a comprehensive social media policy in place, making clear statements about what will and will not be tolerated in terms of postings on social media and the repercussions of a breach”.
During an HR Forum held at the Taylor Vinters offices in Cambridge and London, Hannah Jones, social media expert from NiKec Solutions, was invited to present to over 70 HR professionals on the use of social media in the workplace and issues with social media in a non-work-related environment. Hannah stated that: “Social media is here to stay. It’s integral to the professional environment, with companies large and small using it for business development, recruitment, internal communication, increasing traffic to websites and, most frequently, generating brand awareness”.
Hannah continued, “No matter what size your business, if you are using social media you should have some form of social media strategy. There doesn’t necessarily need to be one person responsible for social media – in fact, having different people associated with your brand can be a positive thing for online presence”.
This, however, comes with a word of warning from Anita: “While it might be good to have different people who contribute to the content of the social media output of a business, it is far safer to then funnel this through a dedicated person or team who has the final say to ensure a consistent approach”.
TOP TEN REWARDS AND RISKS SURROUNDING SOCIAL MEDIA
|Business and professional development||Disclosure of confidential client information|
|Sales and marketing||Reputational and brand damage|
|Employment and recruitment||Blurring of boundaries between personal and professional use|
|Communication||Technological risks – security, spam and malware|
|Team building||Dissemination of misinformation|
|Collaboration||Profane or abusive comments|
|Questions raised and answered||Bullying|
|Disaster relief and charities||Defamation|
|Increased traffic to website||Loss of workplace productivity|
Hannah concludes: “There are of course potential risks associated with social media because of its instantaneous nature. People forget that they are at a virtual ‘cocktail party’ and should think before they speak via the keypad. However, the ultimate goal of social media is to use this ‘free’ technology to turn online interaction into business revenue and positive profile. This works across the board, from the self-employed to international corporations and can be hugely beneficial, if employed wisely. When you combine these communication tools with our technology that gives you a safety net to ensure inappropriate content isn’t being posted, then you’re going some way to embracing the benefits and managing the risks of social media access”.
Guy Wheeler, Partner and Data Protection Specialist at Taylor Vinters, supported Hannah’s presentation with a technical legal briefing on the risks of social media and your workforce. As a follow-up to the recent Taylor Vinters survey and presentation, keynote speaker, Hannah Jones, is hosting a series of webinars to cover the following issues, inside and outside the workplace:
- Social media is here to stay
- The risks of social media
- Technology review – an overview of Netbox Blue and BuzzNumbers